American Initiative at United Nations Greeted with Shock and Anger, States National Council of Women

Friday, July 23 2010

On Friday, the United States proposed an amendment to the draft declaration that would reaffirm the Beijing platform and declaration but only "while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion," according to the text obtained by The Associated Press.

"It is absolutely outrageous to have the Government of the United States, self-named as the world's foremost democratic state, the champion of Human Rights and Freedoms, usurp the right to make personal moral decisions for all women who are half of the world's population," said Catharine Laidlaw-Sly, president of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC).

This action is an attempt, backed by the undue use of the wealth and power of a particular country, to impose a religious concept on the lives of all women, regardless of their own beliefs and practises. This contravenes the concept, enshrined in the American Constitution of the separation of Church and State. Because denying women the right to an abortion applies only to women, this is also a blatant example of sexual discrimination explicitly endorsed by a national government.

NCWC first asked the Government of Canada to remove abortion from the Criminal Code in 1971, on the grounds that the decision was a personal one and that abortion was a medical procedure.

It is unbelievable that this concept would be advanced just a week before International Women's Day during the tenth anniversary observances of the Beijing 4th World Conference for Women, with its Declaration and the comprehensive Platform for Action.

In the last decade, ample evidence has been documented that proves that women and girl-children are vulnerable and subjected to sexual assaults in all parts of the world. We also have documented proof that women and girl-children who are poor (and the majority are) are those most vulnerable to sexual exploitation by men and boys. These facts alone should serve to focus the efforts of the government of the United States on sharing its wealth. Denying women the right to an abortion will only drive desperately poor women into seeking underground or self-induced abortions, a step back in time for many, and no chance for better conditions of life for most. For shame, Mr. Bush!

NCWC urges the Government of Canada to stand firm in refusing and repulsing this ill-conceived attack on the health and welfare of the world's women.

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